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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Forest walks

fw meg and willie I was driving home from Galashiels one afternoon, when I thought of visiting the wooden monument to Muckle-moo’d Meg and Willie Scott, at Thornilee, looking down from high on one side of the valley, and across to the ruined keep of Elibank where Meg was brought up.  I’ve mentioned her story before in my blog, a few years ago now, and shown you pictures, but I hadn’t been up on the hillside for a while.   The statue carved from a single tree trunk, incorporated the burr into frills on Meg’s skirt and Will’s shirt, but time has been taking its toll and the statue is showing signs of wear and tear these days.fw thornilee tower

In the early years of the 17th century Sir Gideon Murray, a King’s Privy Councillor, and his family, lived at Elibank in the tower house high above the valley.  This tower style of house was common in Scotland in those days among the well-off families, built for protection from neighbouring marauders, and of those there were plenty.  fw Thornilee view east Our story concerns a young man from further down the valley, Willie Scott of Harden, who decided to make a raid on Sir Gideon’s cattle.    Border raids were common enough then.  Somehow Sir Gideon discovered the plot and was ready and waiting for young Scott to appear.  He made his move when Scott had rounded up and was driving away some of the Murray stock, captured him and brought him to Elibank, throwing him into the dungeon.  His intent was to hang the young fellow, until Lady Murray pointed out that they had a daughter who would be hard to marry off due to her ill looks. 

A poem about her story describes her  - 

“Now Meg was but thin, and her nose it were lang,  An’ her mou’ it was  muckle, as muckle could be.  Her een they war grey and her colour was wan, But her nature was generous, gentle and free.”   (long, mouth, big, eyes, pale)

  She suggested that Scott be given the chance to marry their daughter instead of being hanged.  It would be a good marriage for both families.  They brought young Scott out of the dungeon and gave him their offer, which he obviously accepted, though it was said he took his time in agreeing to the marriage.  He was presumably won over by Meg’s gentle character, as much as by wanting to live.

And like all good stories it had a happy ending because Will and Meg had a long and happy life together, raising a large family – one of whom was the ancestor of the author Sir Walter Scott, whose monument stands in Edinburgh.

fw Thornilee gorse After taking pictures of Will and Meg dancing endlessly, I walked on along one of the marked trails – just a short easy one – where the gorse was well in bloom.  We call it whins in Scots.  The hillside was covered in it.     

fw whin bushes

So pretty to look at and on a warm day the air is scented with a coconutty perfume – but take a look at the lethal spikes in the next photo!

fw gorse

They’re evil!

Having spent some time here I wasn’t really ready to go home yet so I took another detour to Glentress forest, a bit nearer Peebles.  Recently there has been a new visitor centre built there and I was keen to see it.  For a while, driving along the road from Gala(shiels) I had noticed a box-like construction going up on the hillside, and presumed that it must be the new centre.  It looked very ugly and out of place, and I wished that they would plant new trees to hide the monstrosity from view.  glentress pele2 However, as I drove up to the carpark I was even more dismayed.  The new visitor centre has been built echoing the slope of the hill, but what you see from the road is the Forestry Offices!glentress pele



Thank goodness they have planted trees around the hillside, but it will take a good number of years for them to grow tall enough to do some good!glentress cafe2

Here’s the cafe building with the visitor centre in the background.  I think they should grow grass on the roofs. glentress cafe interior



The interior is a bit barn-like, but I suppose it isn't too bad. It’s comfortable enough and seems to have a good menu.   view across tweeddale

I headed up into the forest for some views – across Tweeddale to the south,

and eastglentress trees2 through the trees 



view of Peebles from glentress



and west-ish towards Peebles.  The main part of the town is on the right of the photo, and the buildings you can see in the centre are a new suburb.  Peebles is growing!

By the time I left the forest the afternoon was all but over.  I must come back to Glentress more often.  It is such a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Daffodils – it’s Spring!

daffs2 It’s only March, for heaven’s sake!   The daffodils are blooming by the riverbank, and look at all these people on Tweed Green, lying about soaking up the sun!!!!  It really was that warm!  Quite amazing!  I had come down to take photos of the daffodils as all of a sudden they were in full flower.  Aren’t they just gorgeous.  It never fails to amaze me that they keep coming up year after year, despite the river rising at times to flood the banks.daffs1

I had just taken this photo and was heading to towards the bridge when I heard a voice behind me calling “Evee!  Evee!”  Well, to be honest there aren’t that many people in Peebles that actually call me Evee, and it was one of my colleagues at the charity shop that I was expecting to see when I turned round, but I was in for a surprise!  It wasn’t Danni at all, but two ladies I didn’t recognise at all!  gweedore 008 However they introduced themselves as Marion (right) and Victoria, and Marion told me that she follows my blogs!  That’s how she recognised me!  We had a grand chat together, and I discovered that Marion does the Bonnie Peebles blog. She lives on the south side of the town, and though it’s not a large town our paths have just never crossed before.  Her friend Victoria was born in Peebles, in a house on Tweed Green, near where this picture was taken, but  when she was a few years old the family moved to Helensburgh, in the west, where she grew up.  Now she lives in the USA, but was over in Scotland on a long holiday/vacation.  They asked me to take their photo with the daffodils behind them - We don’t have this variety of daffodil over there, Victoria told me -  and I hope that photo turned out better than the one I took with my camera!  I took theirs on Marion’s camera with the river and daffies behind Marion’s shoulder.  I hope that meant less shadow on their faces.  Lovely meeting you, ladies! 

daffs3 and priorsford bridge After we parted I went on along the river taking photos of the daffodilsdaffs4 and tweedview

  and other flowers that were blooming among the grasses,celandines 


like these shiny yellow celandines.  The sun was really too bright, but I don’t think the photo is too bad!

 daff2 and spider

I rather liked the single daffodil with spider – don’t look if you don’t like even a wee spider – though I hadn’t even noticed the spider when I took the picture!  Actually you hardly know he’s there unless you click the photo to enlarge it!

the causeway  I walked under the right hand arch in the first photo above, something you can’t always do, but due to the lack of rain in the last while, a small causeway of stones allowed me to do sogweedore 023

and kept to the grassy bank, past the little pool with dozens of little baggie-minnies – little fish -  splashing about in the “shallow end”, and on up to the cauld or weir, taking photos of the parish church as I went .

the weir

Despite the lack of rain there was still a lot of water falling over the cauld, gull on the cauld and I was amused to see this small black-headed gull pecking at something under the rushing water while doing its best not to get washed over the edge.   Later it wasn’t a gull I was watching on the cauld, but more of that later!  Just a bit above the cauld I rejoined the path to cross the bridge over Cuddy Burn, or to give the tributary its proper name, Peebles Water.  Looking out over Cuddy and on to Tweed is Gill’s house, a beautiful old place which I really like.  A photo would be nice, I thought, and as I was trying to avoid having the doggie-poo bin in the photo, I realised that Gill had come out on to her doorstep and was waving to me.  I waved back and responded with a thumbs up sign to her signed invitation to have a mug of tea. 

gill's erithroniums Not only is the house enchanting but the garden was looking pretty gorgeous as well with her erithroniums, snake head fritillariesgikk's snake head fritillary,  and beautiful creamy daffodils. gill's white daff

  gill's garden


And so I spent a lovely afternoon supping tea in Gill’s living room with views out over the river, chatting about this and that, till it seemed time I returned home.  We arranged to meet later to go to the Eastgate theatre to hear a lecture on a military officer’s trek in the Antarctic.

cauld. half way However, as I left Gill’s and began my walk home again by the riverside I was amazed to see a young man with fishing rod stepping out confidently along the top of the cauld.  What a fool!  There are signs on either side of the river warning of the danger of deep water.  Thankfully he didn’t come to any harm but I’ll bet his legs and feet were cold! gill's

A few moments later and I managed to get my photo of Gill’s house.  I reckon the centre part of the building was the original house – door; window on either side and two above; chimney at either end of the roof - and the right side built on at some later stage.  The left add-on would likely be much more recent.  It reminds me, a bit, of Cabbage Hall, Peebles, which was where some of my ancestors lived in the 19th century. 

The evening lecture at the Eastgate by Lt. Col Henry Worsley was so interesting, as he described following the routes of Ernest Shackleton, Captain Scott and Roald Amundsen, and the “race” (or was it?) which culminated in Norwegian Amundsen reaching the South Pole before the British team, and then in the deaths of Scott and his team at the end of March 1912, 100 years ago tomorrow, 29th, in fact.  He also read pieces from Scott’s diary, and showed his photos of some of the same views taken a century ago. I think I might buy his book!

And on that note……

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Parade

parade at teac thomais It seems that anyone with a lorry, truck, car, motor bike, bicycle, quad-bike….. takes part in the Bunbeg procession.  It was amazing!  Just decorate your vehicle with shamrocks, flags and balloons, and you’re in!parade irish car parade little quadbikes  parade

I think I was expecting it to be rather like our Beltane parade in June, where there are masses of floats each with a theme, perhaps something locally, nationally or internationally topical.  Oh, there were a few –  parade can't pay won't pay

A local issue was the Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay, campaign against a proposed new Irish tax on Septic tanks – very unfair to rural communities.  Mrs parade mrs brownBrown’s Boys featured on a couple of floats,parade flower shop and the local Flower shop/garden centre produced a pretty nice mobile garden.

parade st pat

   parade st pat2


A couple of St Patricks could be found, parade snowwhite and Snow White was also there (Noelene from An Crannog); parade martin boylebut otherwise  it was mainly local businesses, one or two charities

parade sea rescue and local services advertisingtheir existence!

 parade care homeAs happens in Peebles’ Beltane, the local care home took some of their residents out in the minibus, parade curraghs and a couple of traditional curraghs, Irish long boats, were also included.

parade flute band

The flute band turned out very well and of course there were loads of wee leprechauns…..  parade bord nan og

…. and US!  I don’t know if anyone in our group knew we were actually to take part in the procession, but we had been asked to take blue and white saltire flags, and kilts, so I suppose we should have known!parade stewart   Stewart was very popular for photos as he wore his kilt proudly.   However we all joined in, some of us wearing some tartan, and waved our flags as we brought up the rear of the marchers.  It was good fun, and afterwards we repaired to the pub for some more great music sessions!  back at huidi'sAgain the youngsters were there, including young


Cathal – what a player! 

He’s going places I am quite sure!  This is the sort of sound they made.

Next morning we were up early for the journey back to Belfast and the ferry.  It was sad to be leaving, we had all had such a good time, but we hope to see Noelene  and some of the others in May when they come across to the college Celtic Festival.

Talk again soon.

Friday, 23 March 2012

St Patrick’s Day!

Our day began with porridge and an Irish cooked breakfast!  Homemade soda bread also went down well with our cups of tea or coffee.  Then we were off on our St Patrick’s Day adventures.  We had a drive out on the coach in the morning, but no-one really knew where we were going or what we were seeing.  It turned out that there was supposed to have been a local guide, but he had got left behind! No-one knew he had to be picked up!!! near the bloody forelandHowever we saw some beautiful scenery around The Bloody Foreland,near the bloody foreland2 

magheroarty and muckish


 magheroarty and muckish2


magheroarty donkey


magheroarty dionkey3

met a rare (these days) Irish donkey who enjoyed having its ears tickled, 

tricolour above magheroartyhad a walk on Magheroarty beach, looking out to the islands, magheroarty to inishbofin

gweedore 237

and returned to base via the foot of Errigal mountain,  errigal3




and past The Church of the Sacred Heart beside Dunlewy Loughdunlewey church .

Errigal is visible for miles and is very photogenic.dunlewy lough and errigal Further down

the lough we stopped at a hotel for a sandwich lunch where I took this last photo.

The afternoon was to be taken up with the St Patrick’s Day Parade back at Bunbeg…..  and that must wait till next time!

Talk again soon.